By: Mandi Woodruff |

Now that Americans are living longer than ever than ever before, more retirees are choosing to move abroad after they leave the workforce. In 2013, the Social Security Administration sent benefit checks to more than 373,000 retirees living outside the U.S., up from 307,000 in 2008.

As far as choosing the perfect destination for your golden years, the options are practically endless. If you receive Social Security benefits, you can still get your check in just about every country in the world (with a few exceptions). Some countries offer perks specifically aimed at attracting expat retirees, like Ecuador, which peddles discounts on everything from public transportation to flights. And Panama gives expats a break on utilities and offers a special visa that allows anyone receiving a monthly pension to live there permanently.

Fantasizing about retiring in another country is one thing — actually packing up your American life and moving is quite another. There are obvious challenges, like making sure you’ve saved enough to cover your expenses in another country, and others, like learning a new language and getting used to cultural differences you may never have anticipated — all of which can make the transition difficult. So we tracked down a handful of retirees who have successfully created new lives for themselves abroad to find out how they did it.

Here are their stories (note: some answers have been edited for clarity and space):

Maria (61) and Robert Blount (65)

Moved from Lehigh Acres, Fla., to Puerto Cayo, Ecuador in 2013.

Why we moved: My husband was a college administrator and I worked as an underwriter for Prudential Financial. I love the ocean but could not afford to purchase beachfront property in Florida — besides, Florida is too hot and muggy for us.

How we did it: We started planning long before we moved. We purchased a 2,400 sq. meter lot right on the beach in 2004 when land was affordable. At that time I paid USD $44,000, which is what was called the “gringo price” (meaning, they charged us a higher rate because we were American). But I didn’t mind because I knew the prices would rise. On the land, which is in a fishing village, we built two identical apartments on top of each other.
What life is like now: Most of our food comes from our land since we grow organic fruits and vegetables and our protein supply comes from our front yard: the Pacific Ocean. I like the serenity of a fishing village and my husband likes the peace and safety. We go back to visit family once per year.

How do you manage your finances? We lead a very simple life with no frills. We built a rugged and safe house as opposed to something more elegant to suit our needs as we age. We both worked long careers and we have pensions and 401(k) savings, along with some income from real estate investments in Florida. Our monthly expenses are very low: phone $7; Internet $22; cell phone $12; electric $25; transportation $50; food $125; and entertainment $30 [about $270 a month].

Richard Wold, 57

Moved from San Diego to Tijuana, Mexico in 2006.

Why I moved: I wanted to retire somewhere and still be close to my mother, who I care for in San Diego. Tijuana is just 30 minutes away, just across the border.

How I did it: I worked in law enforcement for almost 20 years in total but I do not have a pension because I switched departments several times. Each time I switched departments, I would withdraw my retirement [funds] and use that money to move and buy another house in a new location. From those investments, I now own a ranch and some small rental properties [in San Diego], which helps compensate for my lack of pension. This means that I do not have to work at a traditional 9-to-5 job everyday but I do need to make money. I am a fisherman and I go fishing in Mexico with a permit which costs about $50 per year and I sell my fresh fish when I can.

What day to day life is like: I consider myself semi-retired. I live in Tijuana near the San Diego border so I can cross the border every other day to take care of my elderly mother in southern San Diego, but other than that I prefer to stay in Mexico. I recently spent the weekend with some American friends at a couple of bars, watching football and then we went fishing and had a great time for a fraction of what it would cost in the U.S. I’ve also gotten remarried to a woman from Honduras. I recently went on a three-week trip throughout Central America in order to expand my knowledge of the region and improve my Spanish.

How I manage my finances abroad:  My rent is only $250 a month for a nice one-bedroom apartment. My electric bill is subsidized by the Mexican government and it averages around $25 a month. Water is about $25 a month. But what I really like down here is how reasonable entertainment is. To go out and have a few drinks and go dancing all night can be as low as $12 to $15. And a nice restaurant with great food, drinks and a view of the ocean will maybe cost $40 for a couple. I live like a king here in Mexico and I am just 10 minutes from San Diego, so I literally have the best of both worlds.

Jennifer (45) and Barrie Garfinkel (74)

Moved from New Orleans, La., to Sommervieu, in northwestern France in March 2003.

Why we moved: My wife, Jennifer, always wanted to live in France and she’s fluent in French. I was retired and after researching where we wanted to move, we decided that the best country to retire was France.

How we did it:. We bought a house in Cesseras, in the south of France, in the summer of 2002 and we officially moved almost a year later. A couple of years later we decided to move because it was difficult for Jennifer to find work that far South. We headed moved north to Sommervieu, which is in Normandy. We decided to keep our Cesseras house, which we visit during the summer. In Sommervieu, we rent a beautiful cottage. I have a US pension, which is improving every day as the Euro continues to fall. Formerly, I was a computer consultant with my own company, but I started delivering groceries when I was 14. My late wife was a racehorse trainer and we raced, bred, trained and managed racehorses for 25 years.

What life is like now: We rent a beautiful cottage with a nice sized garden. It’s peaceful and quiet. We have wonderful neighbors with whom we have lunch and dinner at times. I have a subscription to Major League Baseball and watch the games on my computer and tablet. We have a chihuahua and a cat. I love being with my wife. We go to the beach, try new restaurants and just enjoy life. I have no plans to return to the U.S. Jennifer returns often to see friends and family. My son also owns property in France. He visits twice a year. I love the stress-free living.

How we manage our finances: I have a U.S. pension, which is improving every day as the euro continues to fall and the U.S. dollar strengthens. Since healthcare is so cheap, everything else is relative. We spend about USD $140 per month for our health insurance. That covers everything, including all drugs. I had a hip replacement two years ago. My out-of-pocket payment was $12. We spend approximately $2,300 per month. That includes food, health insurance, rent, heat, water, taxes, phone, Internet. As the euro drops in value, it gets easier. Fuel for the car is the most expensive item. It’s about $5 a gallon.

Don Robinson, 70

Moved from San Diego to La Paz, Mexico in 2007.

Why I moved: I was in the real estate business a broker, appraiser and investor for nearly 30 years. But I got killed during the housing crisis. I can’t say exactly how much I lost but I wound up with just one house that had equity left in it. I wanted to retire but I needed to live in a place where I could live on my Social Security benefits alone. I had spent a few days in La Paz, Mexico around 10 years ago and remembered it as being a very pleasant, clean and friendly town. I also needed to be close to my mother, who I still care for in San Diego.

How I did it: After losing most of my real estate investments, I left the U.S. with around $100,000, which I earned by selling the only property I owned that still had equity. I was able to buy a Ford Focus, a Harley motorcycle and some used furniture.

What day to day life is like: My neighbors are all Mexicans and even though very few speak English they are very, very friendly. It’s a nice neighborhood made up of mostly families. For work around the house that I don’t want to do, like yard work, labor is extremely cheap. I usually pay more than what they ask. There are some frustrations you need to adjust to, but each time it begins to bother me I think of what it would be like living in the States again and I immediately adjust my attitude. People are friendly and courteous, the weather is good except for the summers which are blazing. But what the heck, that’s what air conditioning is for.

How I manage my finances abroad: I’m a single man and can live quite comfortably on around $1,200 a month. Food and clothing prices are not much different than the States, however, housing is very inexpensive. For USD $380, I rented modern and very large, two-bedroom, one-bath apartment with secured parking and a tiny view of the water for six years when I first moved. Last year, I bought a large two-bedroom, two-bath home with a huge triple size lot and only around six blocks from the water. This cost $72,000 and property taxes run only around $120 per year. A comparable home in California would cost between $250,000 and $300,000.


By: Tony Brogdon |


What is your perception of Baja, Mexico?

Perception is the truth, as we know it.

If all you hear is negative about Mexico, then your perception is going to be negative. As one of the fortunate people to call Baja my home I know and appreciate how wonderful it can be living here. Thousands of Americans live in Baja and enjoy in many ways how the US was to live 50 years ago outside the gated communities.

I can remember growing up as a child when we burned our trash, built bonfires on the beach next to a family tent, popped firecrackers year round, where we always waved at all strangers and they waved back and smiled, where having a lemon aid stand in our front yard was a sign of entrepreneurship, when you could ride in the back of a pickup, and when you as got your car filled up with gas someone would check your air in your tires, your oil level and clean your windshield. Baja is not only a great place to retire due the lower cost of living, but also because of the slower pace of living. Life is more basic here including getting your gas (propane) delivered and backup water in large tanks called pilafs. Your drinking and cooking water is in similar 5-gallon containers as in the US except the cost, which is just over $.50.

A good example of such a life is a gated community strung along the coast between Tijuana and Rosarito called San Antonio Del Mar. It is how American’s can come to Baja and live next to the beach, enjoying the nightly sunsets with a background of the Coronado Islands. Each home is unique and is from 600 square feet to over 6000 square feet.

Tuscany it has a rich history and has streets with ancient cobblestone with a 15-mile per hour speed limit. It is a very quite place to live with the number one sound being the sounds of the waves coming ashore on the beach. If you prefer extremes in temperature, this would not be a place you would want to live. The ocean keeps the temperature an average 10 degrees below and 10 degrees above 70 degrees all year long. Personally after living in Baja for 2 years now I don’t miss the extreme cold winters or the extreme hot summers elsewhere.

At the northern tip of San Antonio Del Mar and across the scenic highway is a resort called Real Del Mar which has many things world class resorts have including an ocean view golf course. If you show up at noon you can practice with a bucket of balls on the driving range for $5. At 2 pm Sunday through Friday you can play 18 holes including golf cart for $25. The service is the same at much higher priced resorts.

A few miles south is Rosarito with a modern shopping center which features a food court that includes a Subway Sandwich and a Burger King. It has a theatre you can enjoy current first run movies for $3.50 and large popcorn for $3 while stretching your legs in a wide isle super modern theatre. The center also features a Super Wal-Mart, Home Depot and an Applebee’s. It has several modern Hair Salons’ that do family haircuts including a professional men’s haircut for $5. Rosarito is a resort town with many enmities you would expect such as fine restaurants and hotels and pristine beaches where you can rent a horse for $10 for ½ hour ride on the beach. The further south you go you will find a beautiful coast lined with resorts and gated communities and oceanfront restaurants with great food and entertainment.

Many people´s perception of Baja and even Mexico is walking across the border, catching a taxi to Revolution Avenue and its many tourist attractions. In city of over 2 million people Tijuana is extremely diversified as any world-class city of its size. For example, there is a suburb, which recently grew from zero population to over 300,000 in 5 years. It is very modern and has modern housing, Shopping Centers and is cultivating an emerging middle class. The regions factory production and technology goes far beyond what many are aware of. My partner William Yu and I through an entity called Ground Floor Technology work with medical Tourism companies in which 300,000 people get various medical treatments every month. We also work with an organization called Tijuana Innovadora (Spanish for Innovation) to promote and educate the general public of the many innovations, which Baja provides to the local, and International Community.

Since perception is the truth, then the truth about Baja, Mexico is that it’s a wonderful, safe, affordable, place to visit, retire too and live strong.



Mexico offers excellent private health care facilities. Private clinics and hospitals feature the latest modern facilities and are built to US-standards.

Health Emergencies in Mexico

When you move to Mexico, you should acquaint yourself with the local medical and health facilities available in your local area. Find out where your nearest hospitals and clinics are, as well doctors, dentists and opticians and keep their telephone contact numbers at hand.

You can find this information out from neighbors, friends, work colleagues or contact your local consulate who may be able to provide you with a list of local health facilities in the city or town where you live.

Although Mexico has a number of universal emergency numbers, numbers for specific emergency services vary by state and locality, so inquire about the numbers for the local police, ambulance and fire station and keep these handy by the home and office phone (and save them in your mobile phone).

The equivalent of 911 (or in Europe 112, 999) is 060 in Mexico. You can ask for the police, an ambulance or the fire brigade on this number.

Some insurance companies supply their own emergency contact numbers to policy holders and will connect you to an English-speaking operator.

Mexico’s Social Security System

Mexico’s social security system is called the Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social, often abbreviated as just IMSS.

Mexico’s Social Securi: System is free at the point of delivery for Mexicans as well as foreign nationals with full immigrated residency status who are in full-time employment by a company registered in the IMSS system (payroll taxes cover heathcare – see below). Foreigners resident in Mexico who are not working (e.g. retirees) may elect to purchase the IMSS health insurance separately for a modest monthly fee.

Employees of Mexican companies (including foreign employees) pay a percentage of their salary each month to the service, which entitles them to access the healthcare system and also provides insurance cover for their salary in case accident or ill-health prevents them from working. The payroll tax that covers healthcare is pay-able regardless of whether you pay into private insurance plan(s) separately.

The level of care delivered by the IMSS depends, in part, on where in Mexico you live: big cities have more resources but more people seeking them; villages and small towns have less people and also considerably less IMSS resources and expertise at their disposal.

Seguro Popular is a nation-wide healthcare program that is designed as a safety net to cover citizens who are not enrolled or otherwise covered by the IMSS. The service is intended to ensure that all Mexicans, regardless of their socio-economic status, have access to some healthcare. Seguro Popular is most often used by Mexicans who are not in formal employment (and thus not covered by IMSS) and cannot afford the IMSS subscriptions.

Health Insurance in Mexico

Mexico has a plethora of insurance companies that, for a monthly premium, will provide you with private health coverage. In the event that you or a member of your immediate family are taken ill or suffer an accident, the insurance company will cover the medical fees.

How much is covered depends on what health care plan you choose to buy. The more cover you need, and the older you are, the more expensive the premiums will become. Other factors (such as whether you smoke or take regular exercise at a gym) may also influence the price of your premiums.

Most large companies provide a health care plan as part of their remuneration package. As with the USA, health insurance premiums have been rising dramatically in Mexico over recent years. It is in part due to the higher cost of medical care, higher cost of medicines and an increase in hospital fees. Having a plan through a large company offers a distinct advantage because the company covers the lion-share of the premium cost, and this means that you, personally, pay less and get considerably more cover under a corporate insurance plan than you would otherwise get on a privately-held plan.

If you don’t work for a company that offers health insurance, then a private plan is your only other option. You should shop around for the best deal and find a plan that matches your individual circumstances, potential needs, and budget.

Companies offering health insurance in Mexico include: GNP Mexico, Monterrey,Royal & Sun Alliance, MetLife and DVK.

In addition, Mexico’s Banks offer health insurance products as part of their service portfolios although you should check the small print for any limitations.

Doctors in Mexico

Mexico has many fine doctors and many also speak good English.

If you are in need of an English-speaking doctor in Mexico you may contact your local consulate as they usually keep a list of local doctors at hand. Also asks friends, neighbors and work colleagues for recommendations of good local doctors.

Your insurance company may also provide a list of doctors and, even, may have a list of approved doctors you may contact as part of your insurance cover.

Dentists in Mexico

Mexico appears to have no shortage of dentists: simply ask a neighbor and they probably have or know a friend who has a dentist somewhere in their family tree.

A large number of Americans travel south of the border every year to have dentistry work undertaken. If you can find a good dentist in Mexico, you can have excellent work done for a fraction of the cost as the same work would cost to have done in the USA or the UK, for example.

As with doctors and other professionals, word-of-mouth recommendations are ideal: ask friends, neighbors or work colleagues if they know of a good dentist locally.

If you are insured for dental treatment, your insurance company may have a list of local dentists that you may contact for treatment.

Opticians in Mexico

Mexico is awash with opticians and you should have no trouble finding someone to test your eyesight in most of Mexico’s larger towns and cities.

Most of the opticians you’ll find in Mexico are franchises which offer a complete eye-treatment service: from eye exams through to supplying glasses and contact lenses.

You will also be able to find local, independent, opticians some of which have been practicing for years and have a great deal of experience.

Eye Examinations: Eye exams are usually free provided that you purchase eye glasses or contact lenses, if you need them, at the same place. The quality of eye exams varies and you should try and select an optician that offers you experienced eye doctors and modern testing equipment.

Eye Glasses and Frames: If you need your eye-sight corrected, you’ll have an enormous choice of glasses, frames, designer frames and frame styles to choose from. Frames and glasses are relatively expensive in Mexico, especially if you want brand-name designer frames.

Contact Lenses: Contact lenses are widely available in Mexico, including the monthly disposables. Daily disposables are available in fewer places and may need to be pre-ordered for later pick-up. Some of the larger Sanborns Stores stock a wide range of daily disposal lenses which they sell over-the-counter. Although contact lenses are available over the counter without a prescription, you should have ‘contact lens eye test’ undertaken annually when you wear contact lenses as the optician will check for infections or other issues which may arise with the use of contact lenses.

Laser Treatment: Laser Eye Treatment is available in Mexico. Talk to your eye doctor or optician about this. Prices for treatment are still quite high, as they are in most places around the world.

Hospitals and Clinics in Mexico

Mexico’s best hospitals and clinics are based in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. If you are seeking specialist hospital treatment in Mexico you will probably have to travel to one of these cities.

Your insurance company may give you a list of hospitals you may make use of in Mexico or, if you have an open choice, then your local consulate will be able to provide you with a list of hospitals and clinics in the local area. Also talk with friends, colleagues or neighbors to ask them about local hospitals and clinics they may recommend.

Note that private hospital and clinical treatments are expensive in Mexico. You will need to have proof of private medical insurance or present a credit card with sufficient credit to cover several thousand dollars worth of treatment when you are admitted. Even if you have medical insurance, the hospital may still request a credit card imprint while the insurance policy and its details are confirmed; it can take up to 24 hours for this to happen.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the investment of private clinics and hospitals in Mexico, especially in areas popular with tourists and foreign residents, particularly retirees. For example, a new medical center in Merida has been receiving extremely good reviews from retirees in the area: the center was built, in part, to provide services to the increasing number of foreign retirees living in that region.

The doctors, nurses and specialist healthcare professionals working at Mexico’s private hospitals are exceptionally well trained and usually have access to the latest equipment, technologies and medicines. Although wealthy individuals still travel to the USA for some types of very specialist treatments (for example, Houston Texas is renown for it’s world excellence in cancer treatments), you can expect very high levels of healthcare and attention at Mexico’s private hospitals and clinics.

Pharmacies and Medications in Mexico

Pharmacies are ubiquitous across Mexico; even the small towns have one. You’ll always be able to find a 24/7 pharmacy somewhere locally in Mexico.

Before July 2010, you could buy almost any medications you ask for over the counter in Mexico—including a full range of antibiotics and powerful pain-killers that would only be available on prescription in the USA, Canada and Europe. Today, high-powered pain killers and antibiotics require a prescription from doctor before they will be dispensed by pharmacists. Contact a doctor in Mexico if you need to purchase these (now) controlled substances.

Because of the high cost of medications in the USA, many Americans are crossing the border into Mexico to buy their medicines. Some may be buying brand-names at discount prices; others may be purchasing generic brand medications.

A concept of ‘discount medications’ has gained popularity in Mexico during recent times, principally through the rise of companies like ‘Farmacias Similares‘—a pharmacy franchise which offers generic drug alternatives to brand-name drugs. The issue with generic drugs on the cheap is that their precise source may be unclear.

The Guardian, a UK-based daily newspaper, published an article about over-the-counter medication in under-regulated environments like India and Mexico. The article highlights some of the risks involved with self-prescription and, in particular, generic (possibly counterfeit) medications.

Even brand-name medications in Mexico usually cost less (not always) than they do in the US and Europe, so buying the ‘real thing’ when you do have to take medications in Mexico may not cost you much more (your insurance policy might cover the costs anyway) and will mitigate the risks of generic or deep-discount medications.


By: Donald Murray |

A well-known cruise ship and dive destination, Cozumel, the island dubbed the Island of the Swallows offers sugar-sand beaches and warm, clear waters teeming with brightly colored fish…temperatures in the low- to mid-80s F, with blue skies, gentle breezes, and over 225 hours of sunshine each month on average.

Throw in amazing, fresh food, more recreational opportunities than you can shake a snorkel at, and a great-value lifestyle, and Cozumel just may be your retirement bulls-eye. This tropical lifestyle can be yours for about $3,000 a month, all-in…far better value than most Caribbean-island hot-spots.

Cozumel is a perfect blend of laidback island life with tons of activities to enjoy. Here you can have as relaxed or active a retirement as you want. You can park yourself on a perfect stretch of white-sand beach for the day, listening to the waves as you read the latest best-seller, or don a snorkel to explore the world’s second-largest reef system, just offshore. Clear waters make it easy to see (and photograph) sea turtles, rays, and colorful clown fish. You can even make arrangements to swim with giant whale sharks.

Lying only 12 miles off the coast of Mexico this island is about 30 miles long and 10 miles wide. But this small space has a lot packed into it. With over 300 restaurants, delicious meals of all varieties are easy to find. You can buy a couple of fish tacos for about $5 and wash them down with a $2 local brew, or splurge on an elegant steak and lobster dinner by the sea.

The bulk of the island’s population calls the main city home. There is a busy malecon, or main road, running along the shoreline near the ferry terminal and cruise ship docks. Arriving by boat, you’ll find a vast array of tourist-oriented shops, restaurants, and bars. A few blocks inland will put you into local neighborhoods, where small houses and apartments line the streets and groups of uniformed children walk to and from school.

Raise your eyes and you’ll note luxury condo buildings along the horizon, offering all the contemporary amenities.

Long-term rentals, while sometimes hard to find, can be had for $450 to $1,500 or more a month. The price depends on size, location, view, the condo’s condition, and furnishings.

Locals and tourists alike prefer motor scooters and various off-road vehicles to scurry around the island. Scooters are cheaper, easily parked, and (using appropriate safety gear) can be safe and fun. Walking and taking taxis are also options.

The island of Cozumel also offers world-class shopping, with everything from precious gems to handmade artisan clothing and pottery, as well as all your daily essentials. The area along the waterfront is dense with small shops and some larger stores.

Food and all other consumables are shipped to the island (making them somewhat more expensive than on the mainland), and fresh water is provided by several desalination facilities. For your healthcare needs the island has several good medical clinics and two small hospitals.

If an island retirement is what you’re looking for, Cozumel offers a very nice, retired life among a thriving expat community.


By: Monica Rix Paxson |

Waiting for surgery is a frequent problem in Canada where Harriet lives. It is not uncommon for the wait for a knee replacement to be ten months or more. The wait is always annoying, but for Harriet it was an especially serious problem. Harriet provides the care for her disabled husband who is nearly helpless without her. Ironically, Ralph’s knees were in good shape. Ralph has lung disease and needs constant monitoring and continuous care, but it was Harriet who needed the knee replacement.

Facing nearly another year of unbearable pain was a deal breaker for Harriet. She wanted to have surgery at home in Canada, but she couldn’t wait. She needed immediate help. After all, if she weren’t able to take care of herself and Ralph, how would they manage? Her mobility was the key to keeping them both out of the nursing home. When Harriet heard that she might find a solution to her dilemma through medical tourism, she was relieved. However, she found that many of the places she looked into were on the other side of the planet and she didn’t think she could be comfortable with her knee being nearly immobile during such a long flight. Mexico, which was much closer, seemed like a possibility, but she had a lot of questions.

With tens of thousands United States citizens uninsured or under-insured, and thousands of Canadians on waiting lists for surgeries, Mexico is one of the countries that has traditionally filled the gap. And while there are plenty of other competitors for North America’s medical tourists, Mexico offers many advantages for those who are seeking affordable and immediate care. Here are just a few of them:

  • Nine JCI (Joint Commission International) accredited hospitals representing the highest standards of care available internationally
  • A number of hospital chains that are designed around the needs of foreign patients
  • Many well-trained, experienced surgical teams, and good nursing care
  • Medical costs that are a fraction of those in the United States
  • Many English-speaking physicians and hospital staff
  • Experimental and non-approved treatments not available in the US or Canada
  • Less travel time and lower travel costs than other medical tourist destinations
  • Less jet lag from north to south travel than west to east
  • A culture of respect for, and valuing of, the elderly
  • Availability of high quality, low-cost pharmaceuticals
  • A long tradition of serving patients from the United States and Canada

While each person is charged with the responsibility for making the best possible decisions about their own care, and circumstances vary widely, for Harriet, knee replacement surgery in Mexico was able to extend independent living for both her and her husband by providing the care she needed, when she needed it, and at a price that was affordable to her.

Monica Rix Paxson is an expert in the field of Mexico healthcare. She is author of the English Speaker’s Guide to Medical Care in Mexico, and co-author of The English Speaker’s Guide to Doctors & Hospitals in Mexico – eBooks available for immediate download. She resides full-time in Mexico.



By: Mikki James   |

The best reason to retire to Mexico is, number one, it’s affordable. Number two, it’s affordable. When a person who has worked hard all their life and been in the grind and just spent their whole life going from appointment to appointment, from job to job, hour after hour, nose to grindstone, this place is absolute heaven in comparison.

A person who comes down on a retirement package or social security can find the healthcare they need, can find a wonderful place to call home, and have the comforts of home that they need or going to need as they grow older and not have to worry about huge taxes or the government taking things away from them. Living here in Mexico provides a huge amount of security for someone at the retirement phase of his or her life.




Living in Mexico has long been popular with those who live north of the border. It is a popular place for holidays – especially with those looking for some winter sun and is also a popular retirement destination for Americans due to its close proximity to the US. The country boasts beautiful beaches, fascinating attractions, friendly locals, an all year round good climate, low cost of living and a good quality of life for all who travel there.

Mexico boasts one of the strongest economies in Latin America and also has a very strong trade agreement with the US. The capital, Mexico City, is growing at an impressive rate and now boasts excellent opportunities for all budding entrepreneurs. There is however a big gap between the rich and poor and a fine line between survival and poverty. However, in terms of international business, the country is ranked second highest out of all the Latin countries in terms of high income. The cost of living in Mexico is also very cheap, which means that many expats living here can enjoy a lavish lifestyle.

Business opportunities are plenty in Mexico as it is still largely a developing country and for those people with savings or who are financially secure enough to invest, now is a very good time. It is necessary to have the required visa and work permits before entering Mexico to live and work. If you have skills that are desirable in the country, you should not have a problem obtaining the right documentation.

Mexico is a popular expat destination and there are currently an estimated 2 million expats living in the region. It is particularly appealing as a retirement destination for Americas, who find that they can enjoy a lower cost of living than that available within their home country.   Expats enjoy a relaxed pace of life and often find it an enjoyable and easy going place to live. The people there are friendly and welcoming to foreigners and the crime rate is quite low. Expats living in Mexico find that there is no shortage of things to do and the country’s diverse landscape offers a variety of activities from soaking up the sun on beautiful beaches through to exploring mountainside lakes.

The low value of the Mexican peso against the US Dollar means that expatriates coming from developed countries can enjoy a high standard of living here. The basic cost of living is much lower than that of Europe and the United States, especially with regards to local grocery items. However, some things can be slightly more expensive, especially utilities and electrical items. Housing in Mexico is relatively cheap and expatriates have been known to buy a good sized property for less than $20,000 USD.

Mexico’s centralized economy means that the Mexico city acts as a centrepoint to the economy. This means that living in Mexico city is much more expensive than other cities and towns in Mexico.

Each Expat Info Desk relocation guide contains detailed living costs across different types of lifestyles and living options for many popular expatriate destinations. Because our guides are written by expats who live and work in the countries themselves, you can be assured that the information is accurate.

Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, although English is spoken by those with a good education together with the majority of international businessmen/women. However, it is still adviseable to learn Spanish if you are considering moving as it will gain your respect and open more doors.

The climate of Mexico varies according to altitude. The low-lying coastal areas are typically tropical, hot and humid whilst the weather in Mexico city is much more moderate. Seasonal variations in temperature are small.

Mexico can be a very challenging place to find work. A large percentage of expats relocate to Mexico in their retirement as opposed to as an opportunity to further their career. That said, a small number of opportunities do exist in the engineering, communication and technical sectors and some highly skilled foreigners do find job prospects in these areas. It is often useful to have Spanish speaking skills.

Other foreigners may be able to find suitable work within the hospitality industry, working in many of the bars, clubs and restaurants that are aimed at the tourist populations. A further option is to start your own business and many expats choose to do exactly that. This is done, however, with varying degrees of success and many expats do find the process extremely difficult and frustrating. If you are able to gain the services of a local then this would help tremendously. Information about the registration process for starting a business in Mexico can be found in our international relocation guides.

1.- The rental market in Mexico is generally unregulated. This means that landlords can raise rents at a moments notice and tenants have to pay up or leave.
2.- There will often be both a Spanish and an English version of all contracts. However, in the event of a dispute, only the Spanish one will be recognized by law. This means that you should always have the Spanish version checked before signing it.
3.- In Mexico agricultural lands that are owned by the local community (ejido) are often offered for sale. If you are living in Mexico and are considering purchasing these lands you should always check the legal status as you may risk losing the land at a later date.
4.- Mexico has a value added tax system and 15% tax is included in the price displayed. If your are a business owner you may experience difficulties writing this off against revenue as, in order to do so, you are required to get a “Factura” (an official receipt). Many small businesses are not prepared to provide these as it highlights their revenue to the authorities. You therefore need to be prepared to pay additional taxes on your earnings unless you can purchase from larger stores and businesses.
5.- If you plan on entering Mexico as a resident or temporary resident you should be aware that you are only permitted to bring in household effects on a duty free basis once in your lifetime. You therefore need to plan what you bring into the country when you first arrive very carefully.
6.- One thing that all expats should know is that bills which are issued before 1993 are worthless. Never accept anything dated before 1993.